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Spiritual Wanderer

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I watched as her hand brushed the pages of her book, swaying her head from side to side as she consumed the story. Peering away from her imaginary world of books and fairy tales every once in a while to see where she would depart the bus. I only watched her for a while. I found it interesting the way she curled her body protectively in her seat across from me, her bag pressed along her stomach, her legs quivering every once in a while. She’s beautiful, not only in her appearance but the insecurities she tries to hide. Some say that book lovers usually read to escape the reality, because the reality suffocates them. I could see how she isolated herself from the rest of us in this small bus. Although her preppy clothes, long bleached hair and mask of make up showed a girl becoming like the rest of the same-minded people she knew. The small women looked up at once, peering out the window on my side, as if to see right through me perhaps. As she looked past me I could see her pleading eyes but what struck me the most was her facial expression, showing a mixture of fear and sadness so suddenly.

“Are you alright?” I asked the women. Although she didn’t seem to hear, again I asked her the same question with concern masking my voice. The bus came to a halt; the women collected her belongings to get off the bus at her school. I reached out to ask her again whether she would be alright although my hand didn’t seem to make contact with her body. As she walked off the bus and through her front schoolyard, many young adults and teenagers already pilling up in groups, the women on the bus seemed isolated from everyone, like she didn’t belong with any of them. Most of the groups talking hushed as they stared at her, they’re stares becoming blindly obvious. For some reason I could feel anger and sorrow rising in my chest for the young girl who nobody seemed to take notice off, so strongly I rushed out of my seat to go and help her. She seemed panicked, trying not to be noticed by all the cheerful faces surrounding her unease. Her shoulders clenched as she hugged her books trying to get past all the people. Her feet shuffled quicker and quicker to get away, soon she was safely inside sitting in one of the empty classrooms awaiting the bell. I couldn’t go after her anymore, not that she seemed to notice me; I sat patiently in one of the benches in front of the school until it was time for her to come out. I checked my watch for the tenth time in the last twenty minutes; finally being three o’clock. All of a sudden I saw the young women running out through the doors in a rush, her head looking down at her feet, tears escaping her hidden eyes. I could feel how upset she was standing where I was.

I tried to get her attention yelling, “Hey, wait! Let me help.” She didn’t even turn her head, just kept running towards the road. I saw her face too quickly, but long enough to see the smudges from her fading mascara. Trying not to intrude I stood a good distance apart from her as we waited for the bus, hoping I’d be able to finally talk to this girl as we got on. Her expression softened; she sat staring out the window waiting for her stop. A few minutes later she got off the bus, and I followed. I tried to speak to her again, although she still took no notice. Following her seemed foolish although something in me begged me to keep on her track, to make sure she was safe.

She stopped in her path at a typical house, straggling to the front door. A slender woman, similar to the younger girl, stood on the other side of the door opening it broadly, her face bearing wrinkles and wise features. It became clear the girl waiting to go inside was her daughter. She stepped past her mother and they escaped into the secrecy of their own home. I could see them through the window, standing a safe distance apart, and their voices were just audible from where I stood.

“What’s wrong? Did something happen again? The mother asked worried. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine.” The daughter answered back, her voice straining.
“If something is wrong just tell me, you’re always so upset and I never know why. You never tell me anything!” The mother argued in a shaky voice.
“How can I tell you when you don’t understand, you don’t even care anymore do you? If I tell you, you couldn’t say anything to make it better.” The daughter answered sourly.
“Tessa…” The mother sounded hurt. “I don’t know what you want from me. I just don’t get you, you are such a special person but you’re always so sad and I don’t know how to make you feel better. You never have friends over, or go places with other people, its like your closed off from everyone… including me.” Tessa’s mother blinked back the tears that had begun to sting her eyelids.
“I want you to get me, I want to have friends, I don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want to be me anymore. I’ve tried to make friends, to be happy and to even change who I am but even then everyone treats me the same, like some kind of monster. Im different, I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. It’s just how it is. Im lonely, and sad and… angry and I don’t know what to do to change it…” Tessa heard the words as if someone else had spoken them, she finally told someone how she feeling, and it didn’t make her feel any better. Instead the tears got worse, and the pain.
The mother’s voice was drowned out slightly when she stepped toward her daughter. “Oh Tessa, I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to help you, but I’ll try. You can change schools, anything you want. You’re different and sometimes that scares people, they just have to get to know you and I know if they did they would love you just as much as I do. One day you will meet amazing people who are like you and everything will make sense. Trust me, I love you.” Tessa’s mother’s voice had become soft and cautious, stepping closer to her daughter they both hugged.

Soon after Tessa walked through the front door again, she was still upset but it was clear she felt better than before. Her eyes glimmering even with the puffiness of her top cheeks and I could even see a little spring in her step as she walked down the street. Again I followed her instinctively, I tried calling her again now knowing her name although she still didn’t seem to take notice. We were heading towards a park; she found a seat where the view was profoundly beautiful. Trees reaching meters above the ground all curved for the branches to connect like a wedding archway, and the sunset setting only below the trees branches in the distance. An older man dressed in rags began strolling down the pathway as if he were heavily intoxicated. Something short gleamed in his left hand and with the other he used to balance himself while holding an empty beer bottle. Tessa peered at him quickly then averted her eyes, I could see her body tense even from the opposite side of the pathway. As he came closer, he appeared to be staring at Tessa studiously.
“Why you ‘ere all alone darling?” The man asked, half teasing her.
“I was just going, goodbye.” Tessa answered as politely as she could scared he would get mad.
“You wait a minute, I wanna speak with you child.” The object that appeared in his left hand was now held behind his back, hidden from plain sight. He seemed like a lion sneaking up on its prey, fierce and desperate. Tessa backed away, and about to turn on her heel and run although the man grabbed at her shoulder tightly holding her in place. “What’s the matter with you? I only wanna talk.” The man said eyeing her. “Please let go of me, I’ll talk to you if you just let me go.” Tessa pleaded. All of a sudden the drunken man lost his balance, his left arm flew to the side to regain balance although he stumbled forward. The object held in his hand hidden between them as Tessa and the man stumbled together to the ground. Already standing on the side of them both, I began trying to get him away from her. He finally stood, peering around them and then nervously fleeing away into the shadows. I looked down at Tessa, feeling in my stomach a wrenching pain, her clothes now stained with red and a short knife stuck out of her stomach. Her breaths withdrawing quickly, I saw my hand reach down to hold her however I couldn’t touch her. My hand seemed to go through her I thought although that isn’t possible. She didn’t look to me, her eyes blankly starring forward.

It was then I recognized her, I’d seen her many times. I knew this girl; I now understood why she was so important to me, to both of us. I have lived this day before and seen her in my own reflection. She was me, and I her. We were doomed to live this day forever, for her pain couldn’t vanish so easily from the earth she hated. Again I tried to reach for my body, finally knowing what happened to me, as I touched my body the pain appeared stronger than before. Right before my eyes I watched as the life left my body, as my life disappeared and I meant more than nothing once again. All the moments I dreaded through my entire life playing in my mind like a film; from my father’s death, to the teasing and bullying of people I called my friends, to the endless fights with my mother, the nights I spent crying until morning, and the countless times I hated myself.
Our spirit destined to live this day over and over, noticing her before realising we’d died tragically and not missed.



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